Mazda has today revealed the all-new 2011 BT-50 dual-cab, a vehicle that it expects will dramatically lift its market share of the lucrative commercial ute market.
Designed by Ryo Yanagisawa, the 2012 BT-50 sports a design that's worlds apart from the model on sale today, but closer in concept to Mazda's passenger vehicle range.
Subtly flared front fenders, almond-shaped rear lamp clusters and a five-pointed grille are all elements shared with the rest of Mazda's line-up, and while it's unusual to see a large work ute styled in such a way, there's no denying that the BT-50 has significant road presence.
It's not only a distinctive exterior that sets the new BT-50 apart from the current model, but its size. The new BT-50 has grown in almost every dimension, and the dual-cab ute is noticeably wider and longer.
The cabin is more car-like in appearance and less traditionally utilitarian, while rear seat room appears to be bigger.
Mazda says that the new BT-50 offers more leg, shoulder and knee room for its rear passengers than the Toyota Hilux, and although we were unable to sit in the prototype it certainly appears very commodious.
Mazda Australia remains mum on exactly what specifications will be offered, but the hand-built show car revealed to the media was equipped with dual-zone climate control and curtain airbags.
Suspension consists of double A-arms at the front and a leaf-sprung live rear axle, with disc brakes at the front and drums on the rear. The BT-50 range will continue to be diesel-only, however precisely which engine will sit beneath its bonnet remains unknown.
Doug Dixon, Managing Director of Mazda Australia, refused to discuss a precise local launch date for the new BT-50, but said the ute will continue to be sourced from Thailand and that it will arrive here sometime next year.
With production scheduled to start in June 2011, bank on a late third quarter, early fourth-quarter local launch.
Mr Dixon hopes the new BT-50 will boost Mazda's share of the ute market. The current 4x2 single-cab BT-50 currently commands 35 percent of its segment, however Mazda's slice of the more sizable dual-cab market comes in at just 4 percent.
Mazda Australia expects to see the buyer profile shift from older tradesmen and farmers to younger family men who use their utes for both work and play – a demographic that currently favours the dual-cab Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.
The hand-built BT-50 prototype on show at the Australian International Motor Show is currently the only one in the world, and a single-cab variant has yet to surface. However, Mr Dixon says the new BT-50 range “will be complete”, and that cab chassis variants of both single and dual-cab will be offered.